People are People: TZ Part 2

Our adventure in Tanzania, continued from the first installment – Held Hostage: TZ  Part 1.

After our near-death experience underground, that evening we arrived in Arusha, had a delicious home-cooked dinner in true-Lorenzen style, and rested up for our next big adventure. In the morning, we piled in their trusty Land Rover and headed three hours northwest, around the base of Mt. Meru to Maasai land. The Lorenzens are good friends with a missionary family who have devoted the last 10 years to running a medical clinic in a tiny Maasai village way off the beaten track. As we got further out into the countryside, the landscape changed from rich volcanic-soil gardens, to big sky plains, to dusty scrubby savannah with a wild giraffe family along the side of the road.

My posts on Tanzania  have already gotten way-long so I’m not going to spend a ton of time talking about our adventures walking to the Maasai boma and learning about the bead and camel projects that they have started, but hop on over to Scott’s blog for lots more detail (and pictures!)

Later that night, when we were all sharing our favorite part of the trip, I commented that it was really eye-opening for me to realize that Maasai people are just — people. I have learned that lesson over and over again, in many countries and many cultures, but it never ceases to somewhat amaze me. Before our trip to Tanzania, all I knew about Maasai people were the austere, lanky poses and warriors faces that I had seen in National Geographic. I didn’t really think that Maasai men laughed, or that moms cuddled their babies endlessly, or that they would be tickled pink to have us come share tea with them in their small modest home.

But they are people just like people anywhere, with their own ideas about what’s fashionable (items of clothing must be checkered, with some shade of red/blue/purple/orange, or preferably an outrageous mix of all three), what’s good for raising kids (babies aren’t taken outside of the home for the first three  months of their lives, and just spend time cuddling with their mom day in and day out), what’s good for eating (vegetables are for rabbits, wild game is for lions – humans should only eat meat and dairy products of domesticated animals like camels and cows).

The next morning, we woke up and traveling an hour up bumpy roads to a mountain church overlooking the savannah. Once again, I’ll defer to Scott’s blog here for great pictures, detailed description, and even a cool music clip recorded during worship. I was struck, again, at how people everywhere are just people. Sure, these people sing better than anyone I’ve heard before, they don’t just clap but move their whole body to the beat of the song while their extravagantly pierced earlobes hang low and kind of wobble to and fro (sorry, I just couldn’t resist!)

But like a church service anywhere, the young men and women pass tiny notes scribbled in Swahili across the aisle to each other, the older women out-do themselves with their jewelry and dresses, the older men sing out in booming basses trying to out-do each other. The little girls dance and sway up in front of the choir, without any hint of self-consciousness, the little boys poke and tease, loitering on the back pew if a quick escape becomes necessary.

We drank tea and mingle after the service, then head back down the mountain – a fitting end to our time in Tanzania. Back down from the mountain, back to life on the gently rolling hills of Uganda. Life has been a bit tough since being back home (more on that later), but I am so thankful for the time we had to experience so much of God’s beautiful creation – in both earth and human form.

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